The David Bowens narrative has a lot of new twists. He's transformed his body and he's playing a different position, and the 31-year-old veteran says he's getting anything but old.
"I keep hearing people talk about my gray hair and my age, but I feel like I'm 24, man," Bowens said as droplets of sweat rolled off his face following today's early workout. "I'm just out here running with the guys. Everyone is going to be sore every now and again, but I feel like a young kid again when I step out on the grass."
Bowens, who participated in about 15 percent of the Jets' defensive plays last season, dropped weight during the off-season. The 6'3" D-Bo is down to 258 pounds and he'd like to get to 250 once the regular season kicks off in Miami.
"In previous years I was 265, and last year I was 268," he said. "It's a huge difference, man, it takes a load off your knees and you get more endurance, more stamina by being at a lighter weight."
Whether he makes 250 or not in a little over month's time will be interesting, but Bowens, a seasoned vet, isn't going to do anything that would harm his body. He kept to a strict diet in the off-season, eliminating sugars and sodas and ingesting plenty of salads and fruits. The only time he consumed alcohol was on his birthday and even then he opted for the light beer.
After spending his first eight NFL seasons with the Dolphins, Bowens still has a home in South Florida. He didn't lift weights in the off-season, choosing to focus on his cardio activities.
"I didn't want to put on any muscle weight," he said. "I got on the treadmill for 30 or 40 minutes every other day. Staying in Miami, I also had to get used to the heat and humidity, so I walked around the track for about an hour sometimes."
Now back north for another camp, Bowens is getting used to the inside linebacker position. The Jets, who have Brad Kassell behind David Harris and Eric Barton on the inside, have moved Bowens to the middle. (He is still lining up at end in sub packages.)
"If they would have told me I was playing corner, I would have been a little nervous about it. Playing Mike, I was fine with that," he said. "I did play it in high school, but back then I was always bigger than everybody so I would just go hit everybody. Right now there's a little bit more technique involved and I'm fine with it."
The shift to the defensive quarterback isn't an easy one. Bowens is working on getting his communications down and learning other players' responsibilities.
"Sometimes I'm second team, so I might be out there with a rookie and I might have to get him lined up sometimes," he said. "If I understand the defense and the concepts by the end of camp, I'll be good."
He thinks the Jets have the makings of a good defensive unit, pointing to the versatility the unit possesses.
"We have a lot of different guys who can do things. I played basically every position on defense except secondary — I've played Mike, Will, tackle, end, I've done it all. BT, Calvin Pace, Eric Barton, all those guys are interchangeable."
A key special teams performer, Bowens and the Jets are under the guidance of a new coordinator in Kevin O'Dea. D-Bo, who registered a career-high 15 special teams tackles and was a key KR blocker for Leon Washington in '07, still sees a similar approach.
"Most of the stuff we do is stuff we've done with [Mike] Westhoff. The scheme hasn't changed dramatically," he said. "There are a few new words here or there but our coach is an aggressive guy and he's really meticulous about technique, so that's the thing we've been working on and coaching up in the classroom."
On this scorcher of a morning, Bowens could have used a towel after practice. But despite owning a few grays in his beard and having appeared in 121 career games, D-Bo's not going to be throwing in the towel anytime soon.